Lightweave: Washington DC attempts to replicate (and improve upon) Indy’s stalled Swarm Street.

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My latest article just posted in Urban Indy, despite the fact that it’s fundamentally about a new project going on in Washington DC.  What’s the rationale behind this?  Well, take a look.  Here’s the underpass in question in Washington DC: And here’s the proposed art installation, known as Lightweave:Those attuned to urban development in Indy …Read more…

Sudsy strategies.

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By now, it’s not just something for Portland to be smug about. Nearly everywhere in America—urban centers, suburbs, college towns, sometimes even rural hamlets—seems capable of supporting a craft brewery. Not only have the numbers of breweries and the often family-friendly brewpubs increased precipitously in the last five years, but the market share for craft …Read more…

Because public art can tow the party line.

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In many American cities, the most prominent murals emerge on the blank sidewalls of old buildings, often through months (if not years) of well-calibrated civic collaboration. Philadelphia, the national—and perhaps the global—leader in this art form has its own long-established Mural Arts Program, a well-staffed organization that not only vets the content and creators of …Read more…

Urban recycling: not a bad (unironic) beer in the box.

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A recycling station housed in an old factory building might not seem like a novel concept, particularly in a city with a plethora of underutilized or vacant industrial space.  Like Detroit. And even the appearance of it—a pastiche of industrial chic, street artistry, found objects, and, yes, even a pretty extensive panoply of bins of …Read more…

Who initiated the scrawled controversy? We know (k)nothing.

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In a city as replete with illicitly painted buildings as Detroit, it isn’t hard to find graffiti in which the subject matter both polarizes and fully illustrates the ongoing debate between two parties.  In some parts of the country, these polemics rarely stray outside of the stalls of men’s restrooms.  They’re low-key and almost private.  …Read more…

Movable, misunderstood apparitions.

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In certain subcultures, it’s become a meme.  But it took me a little while to catch on. Only after driving past this curiosity for three consecutive days did I realize what it was.  It’s not exactly showy, but that’s the point.  Look slightly to the left of the center of this photo, and it should …Read more…

Water tower repartee.

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Even if it’s not a commissioned piece like the mural from my previous post, the landscape of artistic expression in Detroit is rich.  Since such a huge portion of it comes in the form of graffiti—which is almost always by definition an act of vandalism—it’s understandable that my opening sentence might carry a whiff of …Read more…

Testing the mutability of murals.

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Urban murals, once a rarity outside of a few pioneering cities such as Philadelphia, have emerged in the last decade or so as a sine qua non for any big-city civic art initiative.  Philadelphia might still be the national (or even global) leader through its Mural Arts Program, but many other cities are trying to …Read more…

Reviving with the wave of a wizard’s wand.

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Earlier this past fall, I featured the accomplishments of the City of Kokomo, Indiana in reinventing itself over the past few years, after two decades of rust-belt, deindustrialized stagnancy.  Civic leadership successfully elicited a certain degree of buy-in among its constituent, all toward sundry capital improvements, the likes of which most similarly sized cities still …Read more…